Review of ICI Fellow Sanjay Chaturvedi’s Climate Terror Book


We are pleased to share a recent book review highlighting former ICI Fellow Sanjay Chaturvedi and his co-authored book Climate Terror: A Critical Geopolitics of Climate Change with Timothy Doyle (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). This latest review was written by Matthew Sparke in the journal Space and Polity (Oct, 2017).

Sparke writes:

As creative as it is critical, this innovative enquiry into the geopolitics of climate change is also at once discomforting and disorienting. It focuses on how the power relations dividing the ‘majority world’ of the global south from the ‘minority world’ of privileged polluters transform how the threats of climate change are both represented and experienced. The two authors, Sanjay Chaturvedi and Timothy Doyle, argue on this basis that it is critical to question all-encompassing anthropocene appeals to a single global ‘we’ of responsibility and response. Without questioning scientific depictions of anthropogenic climatic disruption on a planetary scale, they nevertheless present a compelling series of contrapuntal contrasts between the ways in which the resulting risks are conceptualized by the powerful and confronted by the vulnerable. The result is a sobering review of what they call the ‘climate terror industry’, an industry that in their account constructs ‘climate terror’ at the intersection of a geopolitics of fear and a geoeconomics of hope to advance ‘a largely conservative grand-strategy deployed by faltering sovereign states, at various stages of neo-liberal embrace, to discipline and regulate various faultlines in statecraft’ (page xii)…

As interdisciplinary as they are international in their approach, Chaturvedi and Doyle develop their international relations interventions in a way that draws as much on political geography as it does on political science and political theory. They closely engage the work of many geographers including John Agnew, Noel Castree, Simon Dalby, David Demeritt, Klaus Dodds, Emily Gilbert, Jennifer Hyndman, Rachel Pain, Susan Roberts, Anna Secor, Jo Sharp and, I must acknowledge here, myself. These generous and constructive engagements lead to particularly useful adaptations of critical geopolitical arguments by geographers. The book presents the geopolitics of fear and the geoeconomics of hope in this way as powerfully reterritorializing geostrategic discourses that recode the implications of climate change with imaginative geographies that make some supposed threats and opportunities visible at the same time as they obscure any analysis of the causes of climate change that might disrupt neo-liberal business as usual. It is in this way that Chaturvedi and Doyle show how those who are most vulnerable are recoded through a geopolitics of fear as the most dangerous. Reciprocally they demonstrate that it is through a geoeconomics of hope that climate change is variously securitized and financialized as an opportunity for military planning, market making or both. As a result, the book avoids the theoretical pitfalls of partitioning geopolitics and geoeconomics into distinct eras or spaces, and instead contributes important new evidence about their cogenerational dialectics as entangled geostrategic discourses…

You can read the full review here [pdf] or online here.

You can also read other posts on our site featuring this book and related work below.

New Pulitzer Center Book ‘Ecological Civilization in China’


New Ecological Civilization Book

As many of our readers know, ICI has been increasingly working more on issues related to religion and ecology in the Himalayas. So it is with great interest that we can share some news on this front from China. On June 16, 2015, academics, journalists, scientists, government, religious and business leaders from China, the US and other countries came together for the first time to discuss the environmental challenges facing China and the world—and the increasingly important role of religion and traditional cultures in finding sustainable solutions to the challenges we face.

Earlier this year the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, in conjunction with the Pulitzer Center and Communication University of China, hosted the “International Conference on Ecological Civilization and Environmental Reporting” in Beijing. Just this week the Forum on Religion and Ecology (FORE) at Yale released the proceedings of this conference, titled Ecological Civilization. The report, which summarizes most of the talks and content of the international conference, should be of great interest to any of our members working on environmental issues in China, as well as the intersections of religion and ecology in global environmental discourses.

Here is a brief excerpt from the opening pages of this report by Jon Sawyer, Executive Director of the Pulitzer Center:

It is easy to assume that China’s environmental challenges are China’s alone. The bad air or unsafe food or toxic rivers we read about have no effect on us, we might think, and nothing to do with the world’s demand for the flood of inexpensive, high-quality consumer goods that has fueled the Chinese economic miracle. But “China is a global factory,” says anthropologist Dan Smyer Yu of Yunnan Minzu University. “However you consume, whatever you consume, pay attention to the label ‘Made in China.’ So each of us has a responsibility for the environmental practices of China. China’s environmental issue is a global issue. We have to take responsibility, each of us.”

Smyer Yu was among an extraordinarily diverse group of specialists who gathered at Yale Center Beijing in June to engage an issue that is close to home for us all—the state of our environment. But they also addressed a dimension of this topic that is new, and significant—how our diverse religious and cultural traditions might contribute to assuring a sustainable, healthy world for generations to come.

You can find out more about the conference and the book at the Pulitzer Center.

Download and read the entire conference proceedings book as a pdf [here] or on iTunes [here]. The e-book is also available via Kindle and Atavist.


Former ICI Fellow Publishes ‘Climate Terror’ Book

Climate Terror_Chatruvedi

We are excited to announce that former ICI Fellow (2010-2013) Sanjay Chaturvedi recently published a new co-authored book titled Climate Terror, A Critical Geopolitics of Climate Change with Palgrave Press. Professor Chaturvedi was part of the third cohort of India China Fellows who were working on the theme of Social Innovation for Sustainable Environments.

Chaturvedi is Professor of Political Science and Centre for the Study of Geopolitics at Panjab University in Chandigarh, India. He is a member of multiple editorial boards and committees and has been a member of delegations representing the Indian Ministry of Earth Sciences. He has written dozens of books, articles, and journal publications on the geopolitics of climate change, energy security, and the political geography of the polar regions. He used the ICI Fellowship to co-design and teach a course on climate change, ecological justice, and human security, and to develop a chapter in his now published book dedicated to sustainability questions, further exploring the critical geopolitics of climate change.

Here is the short summary of the book from the publisher.

Climate Terror investigates the highly differentiated geographical politics of global warming. It explores how fear-inducing climate change discourses could result in new forms of dependencies, domination and militarized ‘climate security’. In this revealing study from Chaturvedi and Doyle, the concept of environmental security is brought to life through cases of the most pressing environmental issues confronting the Global South, which are creating desperate realities for billions of people. The book proposes the following key questions, crucial to our understanding of this issue: Can the climate discourse be re-configured to provide a place where issues of environmental justice and sovereignty are paramount, rather than neo-liberal responses to climate? Can climate change give a voice to the global periphery, and can it be used as a vehicle for emancipation?

Chaturvedi and Doyle’s study concludes by taking note of the more optimistic response of ’emancipatory’ groups and networks to concepts such as climate justice and climate debt, and the ways in which these groups have attempted to use this global climate moment for more democratic purposes. Is the climate story, regardless of its diverse intentions, a discourse now captured by the affluent North to control the development of the Global South? Has the emancipatory moment now passed or is there still hope for the re-emergence of subaltern perspectives on climate futures? The authors further discuss the deployment of terror vocabulary to address climate change, which is a part of refurbished designs and technologies of control, regulation and domination in a neo-liberal, post-political, globalized world marked by profound asymmetries in terms of economic growth and human development. They argue for an increased understanding of the environment, not as an external enemy force, but as a diverse nature that is inclusive of people, a nature that has the potential to provide secure access to citizens of all countries to basic nutrition, adequate access to health, appropriate shelter, and a security to practice a diverse range of livelihoods.

Below is a list of the chapters in his new book, which is available from Palgrave or your local bookstore.

1. A Critical Geopolitics of ‘Climate Fear/Terror’: Roots, Routes and Rhetoric
2. Climate ‘Science’: Categories, Cultures and Contestations
3. Terrorizing Climate Territories and Marginalized Geographies of the Post-Political
4. The Violence of Climate ‘Markets’: Insuring ‘Our Way of Living’
5. ‘Climate Borders’ in the Anthropocene: Securitising Displacements, Migration and Refugees
6. Climate Security and Militarization: Geo-Economics and Geo-Securities of Climate Change
7. Climate Justice: An Attempt at an Emancipatory Politics of Climate Change
8. Making ‘Climate Futures’: Power, Knowledge and Technologies

We would like to send a big congratulations to our former ICI Fellow on a successful new book publication on an important and timely issue.

Climate Change and the Arts – Shimla Workshop Highlights

Shimla Wildlife Sanctuary Hike 2015

ICI participants learn about ecosystem services and local conservation practices at the Shimla Water Catchment and Wildlife Sanctuary.

For almost a week this summer, the India China Institute hosted a series of meetings, discussions and talks with a group of artists from India, China, Nepal and the US in the old hill station town of Shimla, located in the Indian Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh. Coming from a wide range of backgrounds, the group was tasked with a seemingly simply–but in reality extremely complex challenge–how to think about the role of artists and creative practitioners in discussions and debates about climate change, that amorphous and seemingly all-encompassing term currently in vogue.

A year earlier, in the fall of 2014, the India China Institute had hosted a day-long workshop and meeting with a group of artists and creative thinkers in Kathmandu, Nepal to think about a similar question. You can read more about that meeting here. That meeting, and the one held earlier this summer, are all helping ICI to lay the groundwork for what may become a new initiative in the future. Climate Change Himalaya: Engaging the Arts and Humanities, as we have tentatively dubbed this emerging initiative, hopes to move beyond the historical emphasis on natural sciences, and then later social sciences, as the central lens for thinking about climate change-related issues. ICI wanted to better understand how artists, filmmakers, writers, performance artists, sculptors, dancers and other artists were making sense of these complex issues, and in particular, how this is taking place within and across the Himalayas.

Shimla Hills 2015

Typical hillside view in Shimla.

With the old British hill station town of Shimla as our backdrop, this group of artists from four countries shared some of their own work and discussed how they were already engaging with local issues and challenges in their work: the invisibility of the Yamuna River in urban Delhi, the loss of nature awareness (birds in particular) among Indian youth, issues of genetic ownership and bio-piracy in modern agriculture, and the relationship of non-human suffering and meat consumption to resource use and environmental pollution.

In between long sessions thinking about how artists engage with these issues, the group had the change to learn more about the history of the area (both colonial and ecological), as well as spend some time exploring the town, including several wonderful guided interpretive tours with local Shimla friends.

While no simple answers were reached by the group in relation to how artists can best engage with climate issues, everyone agreed these are important issues that each person will continue to grapple with in their own practices, from the studio to the gallery, and from the classroom to the streets. Sometimes the most important part of the discussion is initiating the process of deliberation, and being open to where it may take us. As this initiative continues to develop, ICI hopes to continue to engage a wide range of artists, both here in New York and with our partners in India, China and Nepal.

You can learn more about this emerging initiative right here. Stay tuned for more updates as this exciting project develops. If you are an artist interested in these issues, feel free to drop us an e-mail here.

Thinking About Climate Change and the Arts in Nepal

This afternoon and evening we had the opportunity to spend the day with an amazing group of Nepali writers, poets, journalists, filmmakers and creative intellectuals and think about how the arts and humanities connect with issues related to climate change. The event, hosted at the City Museum, Kathmandu in collaboration with Lasanaa, a local artists collective, was the first of a series of events that ICI hopes to foster in the coming months and years.

Some of the initial questions or ideas raised by people at the table included:

– How to move beyond talk and get action on climate change and other social issues?
– Connecting with and using the mainstream media to tell our story.
– How to talk about climate change from an artistic perspective?
– Spiritual to practical to performance journeys linking Kailash to Kathmandu.
– Role of theatre, performance and local needs-based expressions (local vernacular) to address local issues in local communities.
– How to balance science and communication and not too much doom-and-gloom in the process?
– Using education and teaching to change views of youth and improve educational curriculum.
– How to use environmental poetry and communication as part of addressing climate change.

Participants at the City Museum, Kathmandu talk about the relationship between arts and humanities and climate change.

Participants at the City Museum, Kathmandu talk about the relationship between arts and humanities and climate change.

We also distributed two articles to the group dealing with some of the connections between climate change and the arts and humanities, with the hope that these initial articles will inspire further dialogue.

  • Melting Ice: Climate Change and The Humanities by Jennifer Wells and Carolyn Merchant [PDF]
  • Representing, Performing and Mitigating Climate Change in Contemporary Art Practice by Gabriella Giannachi [PDF]


One of the main challenges that seemed to appear during the conversations was how to move from ideas and discussion to action steps and concrete plans? Everyone agrees these discussions are important, but the urgency of climate change also calls us to action sooner rather than later.

One of the key ideas that the group seemed to return to in one form or another was the importance of education in reaching out and interacting with young people on climate issues. Some of the examples discussed included developing artistic residencies,  working to change  classroom lessons and curriculum, creating public art to raise awareness, and developing plays or storybook that young people can engage with directly.

Another of the ideas that seemed to resonate with the group was having spaces to share our work and ideas, but to do so in realistic ways that acknowledge everyone is already busy and has limited resources. We hope our efforts to facilitate these discussions, as well as providing a virtual space for these discussions to continue and expand.

Following this discussion, everyone quickly jumped up and the space was re-arranged and returned to its original gallery form. From there the evening performance by Ashmina Ranjit, and the art work of her father KG Ranjit, got into full swing.

Here is one of KG Ranjit’s pieces, which also appeared as the cover the the event handout today.

Nature Rage by KG Ranjit

Nature Rage by KG Ranjit


Here are a few images from the opening hour of Ashmina Ranjit’s performance as well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Social Innovation for Sustainable Environments

The third round of India China Fellowship Program focuses on Social Innovation for Sustainable Environments.
India and China face unprecedented environmental challenges and opportunities in their intertwined futures. Both countries are increasingly conscious of the negative consequences of their current rapid development, such as ecological degradation and global warming. In practice, however, ecological concerns, including water contamination, greenhouse gases, poor urban air quality, and industrial waste dumping, have been sidelined due to urbanization pressures, industrialization, and the current economic downturn. Although the past few years have brought positive experimentation in environmental governance in both countries, much remains to be done to bring attention and action to these pressing issues.